Chinese Canadian historic places receive provincial recognition

Twenty-one places of historical significance to the Chinese Canadian community are being provincially recognized under the Heritage Conservation Act fulfilling a commitment in the Chinese Historical Wrongs Consultation Final Report and Recommendations.

The 21 sites, announced by Teresa Wat, Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism on behalf of Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, were chosen from a list of 77 places nominated by British Columbians.  “Reocnition of these 21 sites is an important reminder of the cultural diversity that makes up the Province that we know today, Thomson said.

The 21 sites paint a rich picture of the contributions Chinese Canadians have made to the development and prosperity of our province since the mid-19th century. Some of the recognized sites include:

  • Kamloops Chinese Cemetery – Associated with the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, this cemetery symbolizes the social ties between Chinese Canadians and other citizens of Kamloops. Its use of feng shui principles and burial practices has high cultural value.
  • Arrandale Cannery, Mill Bay and Nass Harbour Canneries, north of Prince Rupert – These canneries are significant for their multicultural population and workforce, and the contribution of Chinese Canadians to the fish canning industry, which propelled economic growth of the province.
  • Chinese Market Gardens at Musqueam Reserve #2, Vancouver – Associated with the Musqueam territory and with Chinese Canadian agriculture, these market gardens represent a unique arrangement of small-scale agricultural land use amidst urban development. The gardens also illustrate the reciprocal and respectful relations between Chinese Canadians and First Nations, dating back to the late 19th century.
  • Lord Strathcona school, Vancouver – Significant as a foundational place in the history of many Chinese Canadians in the province, this place is a trusted place of learning.  With a high level of cultural diversity, the school reflects the multicultural mix of Strathcona as the first working-class community of Vancouver.

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Heritage BC, a not-for-profit, charitable organization, was contracted to administer the nomination process, and an evaluation team, made up of a working group from the Legacy Initiatives Advisory Council and the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia, recommended the sites.

Heritage BC also created an interactive online map that features all 77 nominated sites, with expanded documentation for the 21 historic places that have been provincially recognized.  The interactive map can be viewed here.

In addition to the interactive map, the 21 historic places will be added to the B.C. Register of Historic Places, which lists more than 3,400 historic places that have been formally recognized or protected by provincial, local or federal governments. As well, they will be considered for the Canadian Register of Historic Places, which currently includes at least 100 records for historic places in British Columbia with Chinese Canadian heritage values, and can be viewed here.

Provincial recognition is one way to celebrate and commemorate historic places. The acknowledgement of a place’s heritage value demonstrates that it is considered significant to British Columbians and allows decision-makers to be better informed.